Senior landscape architecture students completed a project in which they showcased their design skills and experienced real-world situations—deadlines, meetings, plan revisions and client feedback—of their chosen profession. Some may have their ideas incorporated into the eventual project—a new landscape design for Chicago's famed Navy Pier.
Teams of landscape architecture students created conceptual designs for Chicago's Navy Pier. (From left) Malarie Pearce, Martin Bresch and Ryan Johnson review their plans.
"It's a great opportunity because the mayor of Chicago, architects, critics and local Purdue University alumni were invited to see the students' work," says Kent Schuette, who teaches the landscape architectural design course.
Students were organized into teams for the semester-long project, and, instead of a professor, each group had a professional critic to call upon to answer questions about its design or ideas. Working with high-caliber professionals such as acclaimed Chicago-based artist John David Mooney impressed Malarie Pearce, a landscape architecture major from New Carlisle, Ind. "Purdue has given us a great opportunity by bringing in professionals to help us with our designs," she says.
One team's design, "A Celebration of the Lake," incorporated the five senses. For example, structures that amplified the sound of Lake Michigan's waves appealed to visitors' sense of hearing, and a balcony just above crashing waves enhanced the sense of feel.
The groups worked through the middle of fall semester on their conceptual designs and then returned to Chicago to present their ideas and get feedback. Then they continued to refine their designs until the end of the semester, when they returned to the Windy City to present their projects. In addition to the possibility of their designs being used, the experience helps students prepare for their job search. "They can add their work to their professional portfolios," Schuette says. "They'll have something to show what they accomplished."